Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Henry Wallace On American Fascists

Henry A.Wallace And Franklin D. Roosevelt
Henry A. Wallace was the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1933 to 1940, during the incredibly  difficult years of the Great Depression, and Vice President from 1941 to 1945, at the height of World War II.  Wallace was one of FDR's closest and most trusted associates, A huge supporter of the New Deal and a man determined to fashion a better world out of the ashes of war II.
Wallace was born on an Iowa farm in 1888. After graduating from Iowa State College in 1910, he went to work for the family paper, Wallaces' Farmer, which was widely read throughout agricultural circles and brought the Wallace family considerable prestige among the nation's farming community.
In the early 1920s, Wallace became the editor of the Farmer after his father, Henry C. Wallace, accepted an offer to serve as Secretary of Agriculture in the Harding and Coolidge administrations. A long standing Republican, the younger Wallace broke with his father's party in 1928 over the issue of farm relief and high tariffs campaigning for the Democrat, Al Smith, in his run for the White House. This brought Wallace to the attention of FDR, who, four years later, asked him to follow his father's footsteps and become his Secretary of Agriculture. He later served as FDR's Vice President, and as Secretary of Commerce. Following FDR's death, and after resigning as Secretary of Commerce in 1946, Wallace became a leading advocate for post-war cooperation with the Soviet Union and one of the most prominent critics of the Truman Doctrine and containment policies that became the Cold War. He ran an unsuccessful third party campaign for the presidency in 1948 that was tainted by false reports that he was a tool of Moscow. Roosevelt once said that "no man was more of the American soil than Wallace," and in the wake of his 1948 defeat, Wallace decided to return to his roots and retire to his beloved New York farm. For the next seventeen years he devoted himself to scientific farming, genetics, and gardening. He died on November 18, 1965. His writing has been out of print for years, but I believe modern ears deserve to hear what this wise man's common sense voice. I believe these modern ears will find his voice quite relevant.

The following is taken from an article in the New York times, April 29th, 1944.

"A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.
 In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others.  The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.


If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead. American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.
Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war ...within the United States itself.

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after "the present unpleasantness" ceases:

The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power.

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They cultivate hate and distrust ...they claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.


Several leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage. We all know the part that the cartels played in bringing Hitler to power, and the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.


It has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. It was Mussolini's vaunted claim that he "made the trains run on time." In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler's claim that he eliminated all unemployment in Germany.  Well, neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.
In order for democracy to crush fascism internally it must demonstrate its capacity to "make the trains run on time." It must develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must  tolerate neither oppressive government nor industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels.

As long as scientific research and inventive ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.


The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan.

The moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in the world.

Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.

It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and "with malice toward none and charity for all" go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail."

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